Sunday Morning Coffee: A Ramble

It’s been a long time since I had a summer cold. I’d forgotten how nasty they can be. I certainly don’t want to share it with anyone else!

We have a lovely clear day here. It’s only 65 outside, with a predicted high of 84. Bearable. A great relief from the heat we’ve been having. Now, we just need a little rain. Well, we need a LOT of rain. I read about the areas that have been dealing with terrible flooding, though, and my heart hurts for all those who have lost loved ones.

It’s easy to be discouraged, isn’t it? Corruption in our government seems to be at an all-time high. The economy is definitely at a record low. Confidence in our leadership is also at an all-time low. We see war in Europe and probably in Asia as well. Drugs are coming across our borders in record amounts as our President works to enable endless illegal immigrants. It’s easy to wonder how much worse things are going to become.

Biblically, we know things are going to be a LOT worse in the second half of the Tribulation period. That time will make today’s issues seem paltry in comparison.

So let’s focus on something better!

I know it’s “old school” and puts me in the “old people” category, but I still enjoy watching Andy Griffith reruns on retro TV. The other night, there was an episode in which Gomer Pyle was talking about getting a couple of gallons of gas for 65cents! I remember my dad being annoyed when gas went up from 19 cents per gallon to 25 cents. Think of it–you could get four gallons of gas for a dollar!

Of course, this was in the 60s, just after the profitable post-war 50s–and that’s a rabbit trail just begging me to follow it. Lots of stuff going on in the 60s, the years in which I was a teen, a college student, a new bride.

Money went farther back then. My first paid job, cashier in a grocery store, paid me a whopping 90 cents per hour. I worked my way through college on those wages, when the semesters were about $500, including room and board!

But I didn’t intend for this post to be about the past :). It’s too easy for us to yearn for the good ol’ days, but anyone who experienced them knows there were serious issues then, just as there are today. The main thing I look forward to about heaven is that there will be NO wars; no poverty; no illness or death; no class or racial struggles, no elections, no campaigns, no bad weather, no miserably uncomfortable heat and humidity.

And of course, if you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know there’s a song in my head right now: Today, it’s the great Mahalia Jackson.

I just went back and proofed this post, and realized it’s more of a ramble than anything cohesive. I think, though, that I’ll just leave it alone–except that I just changed the title 🙂

Sunday Morning Coffee:This and That

I don’t have anything particular on my mind this morning, except a song that’s on an endless loop:

Actually, it’s not a bad way to start the day. It was already playing in my head when my alarm went off 🙂

It’s only 62 F. outside! That’s as cool as it’s been in the morning for WEEKS! It’s supposed to go up to 87 today. We’ve had a little rain, but just a teaser. We could use a good, all-day soaker.

On this last day of July, I find I’m truly looking forward to cooler nights. It will still be hot, but it can’t be much worse than it’s already been. I am eager for the fall sky, so painfully blue you can hardly believe it. Fall flowers, rejoicing in the lifting of the humidity. And, I hope, some good steady rain.

We had a group of young adults here on Thursday evening, along with our pastor and his family. What a delightful bunch! I enjoyed getting to know some people a little better. We had a good time with outdoor activities and indoor conversation and laughter. I’m glad we were able to do this. I couldn’t have pulled it off on my own, but having my son and his wife here to shoulder a lot of the work made it much easier. I love it when my house if filled with laughter!

Both Mike and Janan are closing in on jobs. Janan has been working hard, studying to be an insurance adjuster. Mike has three directions in which he could go right now. It’s a matter of making the best choice, not a bad position at all.

Terry got into some poison ivy this past week. It’s all around his left eye, and it’s pretty bad. Poor guy, he reacts to it strongly. He’s not feeling good at all this morning.

All in all, it’s been a fairly normal week. We’ll be on our way to church in about 45 minutes. A normal Sunday.

I hope your Sunday will be a good one!

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Little Whine :(

Here I am again, on a Sunday morning, sidelined by back pain–again!

The good news? I’m scheduled for an injection tomorrow afternoon. I’ve been counting down the days, and now the hours. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to an injection for my back quite this much before. A big pinch, some pressure, and voila! The pain is significantly reduced in about 15-20 minutes. It’s been almost a year since my last one. I have to admit to just pushing through it for a couple of months, at least, because these are steroid shots and they elevate my blood sugar for a while.

Seriously, it’s not nearly that bad :). My doctor is really good, delivering the shot quickly and as near to painlessly as possible. The only thing I really dread is the day the injections no longer work for me.

In the meantime, things are pretty good. God is still good, all the time. He has blessed us with 53 years of a good marriage. Terry does everything he can to help me, to avoid triggering back pain. I’m actually quite spoiled–not that I’m complaining 🙂

Change of subject: This past week, we had the pleasure of meeting with some old friends we hadn’t seen in quite some time. We’ve known them since 1974. Forty-eight years! We enjoyed seeing them so much, along with several other friends that we’ve also know for about the same period of time. There’s really nothing like old friends, people who know you very well, and love you anyway 🙂 We spent several hours last night just catching up with old friends.

I tried to be careful, but too much standing or even sitting in a chair without back support is always troublesome. Worth it, though. SO worth it!

I pray that you all are enjoying a time of praise, learning, and fellowship today in your various churches.
And I hope that next week I’ll have a different, more upbeat story to tell!

(Late) Sunday Morning Coffee: Home Alone

No, this is not about the movie.

I don’t know what happened, but I woke up early this morning with pretty severe back pain and knew I couldn’t deal with the long drive to church, nor sitting through two services and then the drive back home. It feels a little better now, thanks to good medication.

This could easily be Terry and me. Together, glad to be together, but not talking. After 53 years together, conversation is not always necessary. Quietness is valued.

So, right now, I have a quiet moment alone until everyone else gets home. I love quiet moments alone. Solitude is good for my soul. Some people replenish and renew by being around a lot of people, talking and enjoying companionship. I’m just the opposite. Give me quiet, solitude, music, and a good book and I’ll be ready to face the world again. According to some definitions I’ve heard, my love of solitude makes me an introvert. Those who feel replenished with lots of people and conversation are extroverts.

I don’t know for sure about all that. I just know I treasure “alone time,” and always have done so.

Jesus was the most balanced Man who ever lived. Luke 2:52 covers Jesus’ growing up years: He increased in wisdom (discernment, understanding, learning); stature (physical strength and development); favor with God (spiritual maturity); and favor with man (social, personality development). He was both an introvert and an extrovert. He occasionally removed Himself from the crowds, needing rest and solitude. He always ministered to the crowds, teaching and preaching and touching their physical needs. His final act at the end of Passion Week was to give of Himself utterly, completely, without holding anything back.

Here is a list of 25 verses that teach us the importance of becoming more like Christ:

Of course, He was wholly God as well as wholly man. We, being wholly human, are at something of a disadvantage in being Christlike. However, we can remind ourselves that doing so is a process, not an event. It takes a lifetime, however long that may be, for us to reach the final goal of becoming as He is when we reach heaven.

In the meantime, when you feel the need to renew and recharge, enjoy the process–whatever it may be that works for you!

Sunday Morning Coffee: Pastors

I Peter 5:4. “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

Of course, we have no true idea what the crown of glory will look like!

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple of days about the pastors in my life. I’ve been blessed.

I’m not in church this morning–again–because of back pain and lack of sleep. So I’ve had time to consider today’s post, which is closely related to my present study in I Peter 5: 1-3. The last verse, which I should have included in that passage, is v. 4. It is addressed to the elders, pastors, bishops–words that are used interchangeably in relation to the church.

An elder, bishop, or pastor, if he has been faithful and godly, will receive a crown of glory when Jesus hands out rewards to His people. The Bible says we will cast those crowns at His feet (Rev. 4:10-11) because only He is worthy of such glory and honor.

The first pastor I remember is Orville Peterson, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fairmont, Minnesota about 70 years ago. His love for my mom and dad had a profound influence, changing my dad’s life and directing him into ministry himself. I don’t have any clear memories of his preaching, but they remained family friends for many years.

The second man I remember better. Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters, Fourth Baptist Church, Minneapolis. I was five when we first attended there. He baptized me when I was eight. Again, no clear memories of his preaching during those years, except that the adults loved his sermons and said “Amen!” a lot. The main memory I have there is the music, which has inspired me all the rest of my life. Majestic, alive, enthusiastic. It is where I first remember singing Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! and Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow! There was a big old pipe organ, and the organist wasn’t afraid to open up all the stops 🙂

When I was ten, we moved to Portland, OR, where my dad attended seminary. He became the next pastor in my life and would remain so, actively, until I went to college. He never, though, stopped being a pastor/teacher/counselor for me until he went to heaven nearly 30 years ago. And even though he is no longer present here, his love of God’s Word remains as a guiding influence for me. He had a gift for making the hard things of scripture understandable. I think he is the first one from whom I heard, “If the plain sense makes common sense, then any other sense is nonsense!”

There were others. To name each one would make this post too long. So I’m going to fly through the years and land in Sellersville, PA at Bethel Baptist Church. Pastor Richard Harris was not a dynamic man in the sense of being loud, pounding the pulpit and such. But in his quiet way, he built a ministry that reached around the world at one point. His influence sent people out as pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries and just faithful workers in churches around the world. He influenced legislation in Pennsylvania that protected Christian schools from government restrictions that would have put them out of business. He was active and influential in national and international activities. Most of all, he was a faithful soul-winner, and he loved his flock. He’s in heaven now.

Then, there is Pastor Jim Spears at Calvary Baptist in Pottstown. I think his primary personality feature is his humility. He was truly a servant leader there, and now he has retired and is doing interim pastor work wherever he is needed. He is an expositor of the scripture, digging into the meanings of words in the original languages in which they were written. The first memory I have of him is the way he shepherded people, on a blustery wet day, from their cars into the church building using his huge umbrella. He didn’t see that as doing anything special, but I sure did.

And now we have a new pastor, a young man who has been mentored by Pastor Spears for 14 years. He, too, has a humble spirit. He especially loves the teens, having worked as youth pastor for so long, and one of his goals is to bring more youth into the church.

We need to pray for our pastors, elders, leaders in the church. Women are elders, too, although they may not hold that official title. We are all teachers, often without realizing the influence we have on others. The women in the church can and should be a huge blessing to the ministry. There have been women in my life who have cared enough for me to hold me accountable in ways that I sometimes found quite uncomfortable. That’s what we need to do for each other. Not tearing down, but edifying and building each other.

Aside from those who were my pastors, I have been privileged to hear some of the greatest leaders in Christianity over the last 70+ years; those who came to my dad’s church to speak, or to my college, or to the other churches of which we have been a part. I won’t live long enough to be as aware of the new generation of leadership, but I pray that God will raise them up and strengthen them in a time when true Christianity is being seen as the biggest enemy of freedom. How the devil twists things and lies so effectively!

But that’s a topic for another day.

Love your pastor. Be the ones who hold up his arms in hard times, not the ones who tear him down.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Mother’s Day

I’ve posted this picture of my mom before. I think it’s my favorite. She was close to 70, I believe. This was taken at my oldest son’s wedding, nearly 30 years ago.

Things were still very hard for my mom. Dad had died when she was 68, and she was still learning how to live without him after more than 50 years. Married at 16, a war bride, she finished high school while Dad was off in a submarine. Theirs is a fascinating story, and someday. . . . .well, maybe not, but I’ve always thought it would make a good book.

She was born in 1925, grew up during the Great Depression wearing clothes made from flour sacks. She used to talk about playing with the chickens as if they were dolls. She’d squat down to walk with them, tucking her hands under her armpits and flapping her elbows. And she talked to them. Of course she did 🙂

I don’t know how old she was when she fell into an irrigation ditch and nearly drowned. All her life, after that, she was afraid of having water in her face. She hated showers, always opting for a tub bath.

She grew up hard, scraping and going without. Often she would remember how she used to crave a glass of cold milk. Simple needs that we take for granted, right?

When Mom and Dad surrendered to God’s call to enter the ministry, she was terrified. She wanted to be a good pastor’s wife, but nothing in her life had prepared her for it. She didn’t grow up in a Christian home. Church was not part of her life until after she married Dad. There were all sorts of obstacles for her to overcome.

Overcome them she did. My mother was not perfect. She was just as human as all the rest of us. She messed up just like all the rest of us, but she loved God, loved my dad, loved her children, and she loved the people in the churches where they ministered.

Sometimes now, when I think of her, I imagine her in heaven; supremely happy, wanting for nothing, free of the pain that dogged her in her lower back, able to sing again. She had a pretty soprano voice, but as she aged she became a bass–just like me 🙂 Why don’t women’s voices hold up as well as men’s voices do? Oh well. In heaven, the vocal cords will never age!

Well. I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day, whether you are a mother, or a daughter, or a grandmother or any woman who has mothered a child, no matter how briefly.

I know Mom is rejoicing in heaven today, not because she’s a mother, but because she is with the Lord she served.

Sunday Morning Coffee: What do You Think?

Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

I hope you won’t mind if I go just a little psychobabble on you this morning.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is based on the idea that what you believe is true motivates your words, emotions, and behavior.

So, for example, let’s just say that you believe with everything in you that you deserve to have whatever you want, and you deserve to have it NOW! How is that thinking going to affect your emotions?

Here’s how: You will become angry when your desires are not fulfilled. You will be resentful of the people in your life that don’t believe as you do, and do not provide everything you believe you must have. You will become a complainer, argumentative and full of self pity.

And those emotions will lead to words, which will reflect your inner thoughts. Complaining. Disagreeing. Focusing on self. Being critical of anyone else who doesn’t comply and support your thinking.

Words and behaviors are closely connected. You will become a person who resents any form of regulation or discipline imposed on you against your will. Think of a two-year-old who is sitting in the grocery cart, demanding candy. You can hear this child all over the store as he screams, repeating his demands over and over. Is he just a rotten kid? Well, maybe, but it doesn’t have to continue. What needs to change is his thinking! He needs to understand that wanting and needing are not the same thing. If his longsuffering parent caves in and gives him the candy, then she is reinforcing his belief that he MUST have whatever he wants, and that he should continue to pitch a fit until he gets it. He has learned that no one else matters, just himself.

Here’s a news flash for you: Our job as parents is to disabuse our children of this self-centered thinking, and to teach them that they are NOT the center of the universe. This training needs to start before you pack the child into his car seat. He needs to be told, “Do not cry and ask for candy. If you do, I will leave the store, take you to the car, and give you a little tune-up.” “Oh,” you may say, “A two-year-old doesn’t understand that!” Yes he does, if you’ve been doing your job. That is why the tantrum stops abruptly the minute his wants are satisfied. No more screaming, no more tears. Unless, of course, it wasn’t the specific candy he wanted!

All of this takes place because he believes he is entitled to whatever he wants, RIGHT NOW! He also believes he is the boss of you, and if you cave and give him the candy, his belief is reinforced. It worked, after all. He screamed, you scrambled. He won. And it becomes a repeated behavior, reinforcing his faulty thinking every time he wins.

The biggest tragedy here is that he takes his faulty thinking with him into adulthood. He doesn’t feel obligated to earn his keep because every single thing he has ever demanded has been given to him. I’ve heard of young people applying for jobs who give their prospective employers a list of their demands! Can you imagine? My word!

So why am I on this track today? That’s a long story. As a long-time observer of human behavior–I’m one of those people who likes to watch other people–I can tell you that this kind of thinking and behavior is rampant today. I see people in groups of three or four who all have their eyes on their phones, paying no attention whatsoever to those they are with or other people who are expected to give way to them because they can’t be bothered to look up and show concern for anyone else.

It’s not just young people. There’s no one more cantankerous than a self-centered old person. This faulty thinking runs through every age bracket. It is a slow poison that leads society into all sorts of misery and ruin.

We need to do some self-examination, and we need to do it with humility and prayer:

“Dear Lord, am I guilty of false thinking and beliefs? ‘Search me, Oh, God, and know my heart; see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.'” (Psalm 139:24-25)

Sunday Morning Coffee: The Church

We have a big decision to make after church today. We’ll have lunch first, then a business meeting in which this important vote will be taken. I hope, of course, that it turns out the way I want it to 🙂

I’m happy to say that the cartoon above is NOT my church 🙂 Our business meetings are usually short and to the point, with anyone free to state his opinions, and no murmuring and complaining once the decision is made.

And so it ought to be. One of the main benefits of the church is that we have fellowship with other believers, in a spirit of unity and respect for one another.

No church, of course, is perfect. If you find one that is, you’d better go somewhere else because you’ll probably ruin it :). The church is comprised of sinners, saved by grace and looking forward to heaven. We are particularly blessed in my church to have some outstanding teachers both in children’s ministries and for the adult Sunday School classes.

I hear a lot of nonsense concerning church these days. Don’t really need to go, can worship God while I go fishing, the forest is my church, etc. The problem with all that, of course, is that it countermands God’s plan that church is to be a place where believers are edified, admonished, helped, and encouraged.

We have a really good group of young people. Our teens are, for the most part, open and friendly with the adults. They seem to enjoy little kids as well, and participate in helping with children’s church and in the baby nursery. They’re normal kids. They like to have fun. I enjoy them a lot in my home school co-op classes.

I’m rambling this morning. I’ve just been thinking a lot about how important the church has always been in my life for nearly 75 years. It hasn’t always been a blessing. Being the preacher’s kid puts one in an awkward position, in which you are expected to be a paragon of virtue, but are disliked for being too holy. “Be good, be an example, but don’t be holier-than thou.” Believe me, it’s a tricky rope on which to balance! However, that ends fairly early in life, and the lessons learned during those years are invaluable later on.

I love my church. I love the people, the little children, the teens, the young adults who are happy to sit and talk with me after the service is over. And I truly enjoy the older people–oh, wait. I AM an older people! Huh.

I saw a meme yesterday that said, “I hate it when I see an old person and realize he’s the same age as I am!”

Sunday Morning Coffee: Psalm 61

Just a short one this morning.

Yesterday, a friend posted Psalm 61 on his newsfeed. I love that one. Here it is again, with the passages in bold italics that speak to me especially:

61 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.

Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations.

He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.

So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.

And here is the song that’s been in my head since I saw this post yesterday:

Sunday Morning Coffee: Good Sleep, and a Goodbye

It’s a gift! Good, restful sleep is a wonderful thing. No restless leg symptoms last night. What a blessing!

So. The big news today is that our pastor, who has been at the church for 25+ years, is retiring. Today is the send-off, celebrating his years of ministry to our church and thanking him for his faithfulness and godly leadership. There will be a meal after the morning service, and a time of testimonies and probably tears as we say this goodbye. He’s going to begin a ministry of being an interim pastor, starting next week at a church in Maryland.

It’s sort of like seeing a very close friend retiring from that position. We will miss him so much!

He has done his best to prepare us for this momentous change in our lives as well as his, but I don’t think you’re ever really ready for such a big change, until suddenly it’s happening.

This photo was taken at his 66th birthday party in October:

We’ve been part of this church since 2013–nearly ten years! That’s hard to realize! We’ve certainly grown under his ministry. His life and ministry make me think of this song by Ron Hamilton: